Warped Tour as a concert is impossible to review because there's so many groups that it's impossible to see a good cross-section of them, so I just ended up going and hoping I got lucky with the set times. Therefore, my taste mostly dictates what I saw, but a few bands who were in the right place at the right time caught my attention, and I suspect that's what Mr. Lyman wants.
For the most part, I did get lucky with the set times. Here is my "mix tape" of Warped.
I caught a few of the Horrorpops' songs. They're quite strong live, and if I was into either genre they played in, I'd be excited for their every concert. Instead of being a gimmick, the standup bass added to their oddball allure. Their set was energetic and filled with audience participation, perhaps reminding the audience, that yes, punk bands wore makeup before the recent explosion.
I briefly watched Boys Night Out. I liked what I saw, but I had to high-tail to see another band. Harmonies seemed nice.
The Gym Class Heroes seemed to get the crowd into their stuff, but viewing from a distance, they didn't fare too well in my eyes. Then again, I saw the tail end of their set, and was trying to keep a turkey sandwich down. The bassist and guitarist just seemed to sit there and play while the emcee went right into the photo pit to rhyme, which was quite the dichotomy.
Fall Out Boy was terrible. They were sloppy, fucked up their own songs, and no amount of energy and "THANK YOU CHICAGO WE FUCKING LOVE YOU" could save them. Oh, they tried to compensate; the bassist ran across stage doing karate flips and swinging of his guitar, but that's only cheap theatrics if your band fucks up bad enough that I notice it. The drummer still rocks, though.
Funeral For A Friend had their fans out, and boy, they whipped the fans up good. I had fun, and if they were opening a show, I wouldn't leave, per se. That said, I wouldn't go out of my way to see them. Like Atreyu, except without the mascara and satanic fetish, less screaming and more singing.
Big D And The Kids Table was putting all they could into their set. I just didn't enjoy it. Yes, it was fun, yes, it was energetic, but I wasn't into it. They did remind me that ska wasn't dead, and to the contrary, is quite fun. Still wasn't into it. Being thirsty and miserable can do that to you.
And onto the groups I stayed a while for.
Thrice played "Under A Killing Moon." That being one of my three favorite Thrice songs, I think it was safe to say they tore it up. And that's my opinion from way, way away from the pit. Arena tours shouldn't be out of the question for the band with presence like that.
A Wilhelm Scream played to about 50 people and murdered. "Me Vs Morrisey‚?¶" is worlds better live, and that's from a song that nearly everyone on here admits is pure gold. Nuno went balls out, dashing across the stage with a manic grin on his face, joyously screaming while Trevor and Chris looked like men possessed, slamming their guitars and singing their parts with such force that I wondered if the veins would pop in their necks. It's the kind of masculine energy that nearly a year straight on tour can give your band, and A Wilhelm Scream had it in spades. If there was any question A Wilhelm Scream is the real thing, their performance was an enthusiastic fuck yes!
Motion City Soundtrack ended the night right. I can safely say this was the best time I've seen them, and they only get better with age. Their set list could only have come from my fervent hopes that they played all songs I knew and loved. First good thing: They started their set right with "Don't Call It A Comeback," and they didn't look back. It's shiny, fuzzy pop at its best, and Motion City Soundtrack deserves all the attention they're getting. I first saw them at the Bottom Lounge, and from there, they've only improved.
But the highlight of the day? That one special group that deserves praise above and beyond the truly excellent performances of A Wilhelm Scream and Motion City Soundtrack?
That band is Bedouin Soundclash. Never heard of them? Neither did I. Sure, I saw Adam's review of them, found it interesting, and disregarded it. I also saw the CD made his top 20 of 2004. Again, I found it interesting, and disregarded it. I bought the CD a couple hours before I even saw them, again, on Adam's suggestion.
I must set up the scene, however. I saw Bedouin Soundclash after the Gym Class Heroes on the Volcom/Hurley stages. These stages were two smaller stages made out of a pavilion stage in the Tweeter Center portion of the complex. Suffice to say, this was not an intimate setting. Somehow, the spacious sound of Bedouin Soundclash seemed to grow with this atmosphere. Describing sounds are usually things best left to people desperate to pigeonhole a group, but words like warm, soothing and relaxing don't do Bedouin Soundclash justice, because those words are whored out to just about every other "indie" group out there. Instead, I think you'd be much better served by their dedications and covers and drawing conclusions from there.
They dedicated a song to Joe Strummer, with both backing bands, the Specials, Desmond Dekker, the Skatalites, and Strike Anywhere and the Explosion, "since they're no longer with us on Warped." They also pulled out a chorus and verse from the Clash's "Guns Of Brixton" as well as an old ska song I didn't recognize. I don't know if it's dub, reggae, ska or whatever. What I can say is that these guys floored me, and this three-piece deserves your ear immediately.
Notes / oddities / points of interest / opportunity to get cheap shit:
- Vagrant has a sale on Warped where you can pick up all their releases they brought with them brand new for $5, save Alkaline Trio's Crimson for $7.
- My Chemical Romance apparently takes Visa and Mastercard.
- Alternative Press is raffling away a bunch of free stuff if you get a one-year subscription for $5. You could walk away with iPod speakers or free House Of Blues tickets to whatever show you want there.
- Included with the free Floyd comp from Fat is a deal where if you buy three CDs, you get one free.
- Ironically enough, the Myspace tent is more or less kiddie corner from the Trojan condom tent.
- I hesitate to throw my hat into the pros and cons of Warped's seeming corporate sponsorship, but I will say this: I'd much rather have a "corporate sponsored," inclusive Warped Tour that doesn't cost as much as opposed to an exclusionary, high-priced Warped that only suburbanites with faux-faded 80's shirts and designer aviator glasses can afford.